The F1 Hierarchy


No passing through my dirty air please
Sport is incresingly more in love with youth. The younger someone acheives something the better story it is and the more talented they must be. So says the media anyhow. Its certainly been part of the F1 culture for the last 10 years. Alonso was the youngest champion ever. Then Hamilton came along and he was the youngest champion. Then Vettel smashed that. Kvyat is now the second youngest podium placer and Max Verstappen could be in F1 for about 5 years and still smash all these records. Its not something that is unique to F1 as all sport is now obsessed with the young but it does create an issue in F1 unlike most other sports. There has always been a limited amount of space in F1, in the current climate even more so, which means the younger a driver is succesful the longer he's going to be around in the sport. Add in the 'superstar' factor of drivers being the factor that attracts the most sponsors, and with sponsors being the only thing that keeps teams afloat in the super expensive world, it has created is an untouchable hierarchy that sits at the summit of F1.

As much as we all love F1 and enjoy watching the midfield battles we all have to accept that fact that when it comes to championships there are only 4 or 5 seats worth having in F1. There are only 5 top teams in F1, one of those is debatable (Williams) and another is in serious downfall and recovery (Mclaren). As much as we'd like to say that all these teams have a level playing field the cold reality of it is there is always a lead driver and a back up driver. Meaning there is very limited space in the sport and when drivers have longevity its almost semi impossible for anyone else to break into those teams.

We all known the current situation. Lewis Hamilton is the main attraction and is fully installed at Merc and being succesful. Rosberg is the perfect pairing as he's quick and pushes him but is never going to create too much friction. Merc are not going to rock the boat by bringing in the 'next big thing'. So thats Merc locked out. Vettel is now set up at Ferrari and has made a success of it so is currently their champion to bring them back to the front. It looks like they'll renew Kimi's contract because a) he doesn't bother Seb too much and b) hey he's a big name world champion and it looks good to the investors. The whole Vettel going to Ferrari thing did shake stuff up a little in the fact that he left another stalwart at the top without a team. Alonso chose to go to Mclaren in the hope they will come back eventually and therefore has locked out that team now. The second seat may be up for grabs but in times of trouble having a world champion and a British superstar on the team is not a bad thing to bring in a bit of backing so therefore Jenson Button is fairly set at the moment. Red Bull are an intersting one as they are the most likely way into the top if you're a driver in F1. The problem is they only promote from within. Vettel went to the top of that team and held it until he decided to leave where his position has been filled by Danny Ricciardo who is new to the big name drivers league. The problem he has is that the team aren't on top at the moment and it seems pretty obvious that the team is just sitting waiting for Max Verstappen to come into it and be there lead driver. So there is no way in there either. Williams is an odd one as personally I'm not 100% sure they are part of the top 5 teams due to the fact they defer to Merc. It is an oppotunity for drivers but its pretty much the same oppotunity as driving for Toro Rosso. Even Williams have one of the old boys proping up their sponsorship.

So if there is no way in at the front then what are your options? Well you could try the Grosjean/Hulkenberg tactic and sit in teams that are on the periphery either hoping they have a break through or a space becomes avaliable. The problem with that is with the way the media currently is the longer you kick around in the midfield the more your reputation takes a battering and you get labelled 'journeymen' because, hey, if you're not succesful straight away then you're obviously not a superstar and eventually end up in the Buemi/Vergne position where you have to make room for someone else despite not doing wrong. You could take the Palmer/Magnusen option and sit at a succesful team as a test driver - it worked for Hakkenien and Alonso back in the day after all. The problem with that is that you get forgotten about because you're not racing and become in danger of becoming Gary Parfeet.

What does all this mean? Well it means that we kind of have the beginings of a lost generation of drivers who can't get into F1 or at the very least are stuck at the back for a couple of years before having to leave. Jolyon Palmer, Robin Frinjs, Robert Wickhams, Sam Bird, all names that have been massivley succesful but can't find a way in to compeate at the top. Sadly its seems likely that Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Ocon may go the same way. Basically talent we don't get to see due to politics. Its no wonder that the likes of WEC and Formula E are becoming increasingly popular as the talent spills over to them.

What is the answer? I really don't know. But it seems quite apparent that the current 'cream of the crop' in F1 have been intrenched by their agents and aren't going anywhere anytime soon. If you're an up and coming driver in the junior categories then your only option is to sit and wait it out until they all get to old. The problem with that is that if you don't win these junior sections immediatly you're written off as 'not being that good'. Basically if you're a young driver wanting to be an F1 champion right now you better perfect cryogenic freezing for the next 5 or 6 years.
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I believe that Ferrari are going to keep Raikkonen for 2016, as you said RasputinLives. IMO he's an obvious candidate to be replaced by someone new and exciting.
I'm quite surprised that Ferrari are so cautious about it.
Politics. Pure and Simple. They have their number 1 driver so don't need a big talent so they might as well keep Kimi as he's a name people know and it tattracts plenty of backers.

Its pretty much the same throughout the grid really. I'd don't see a way in for anyone currently.
This problem is not isolated to F1, it is present at all levels of motorsport. It's like promotion in anything else, eventually, you hit a point where there are a limited number of positions available, and unless you can court the right people, you're not getting that promotion, no matter how hard you try.
Thats true Dash Racing I jsut can't remember a period in F1 where there has been such a log jam. Barring accidents (lets hope not) Hamilton and Vettel are going to be at the top of the sport for at least another 6 to 7 years. Alonso and Kimi are showing no sign of letting up and even Button is hanging on in there. Max Verstappen could be Red Bull's driver for the next 20 years!

If I were in the junior cateogries right now (and wasn't part of the Red Bull scheme) I really don't know what I'd do.
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The log jam is, from one point of view, a good thing. The log jam was less present pre-90s due to driver injuries and deaths. In the 90s, there was quick turnover if you weren't getting results - in some ways, that's worse than a log jam, since you're not guaranteed to keep your drive even if you do get in. It's unfortunate for those on the outside, but hey, everyone's got the same problem, and does it really matter where you drive as long as you drive?
Well it does if you're a young driver out there wanting to be F1 world champion. Doesn't matter how good you are right now because you'll never get the shot.
Button is probably in his last season, Kimi only has one more, Hamilton will likely go and do something else before long. I think it was worse in the past, when the likes of Trulli, Ralf, Fisichella, Montoya and Coulthard were rotating around the top seats doing bugger all with them.
My tip for the future fro m the current crop is VESTAPPEN. I love him! He was great today. A real racer and only 17.
And my personal feeling is that Vandoorne or Mags will be in the Mclaren. Lewis? I think we have him for at least another five maybe six years. Well I hope we do!! :D
I can see Button trying to muscle into the commentary side of F1. That's almost as log jammed as the actual racing though.
I think it's not a bad thing that the young guns don't have immediate access to top teams, they will have the opportunity eventually (some of the at least) and they can continue to learn the ropes in the mid-field. When they get a top drive too soon, they can go up in flames too quickly. Particularly Verstappen, he's really fast and skillful and should challenge Vettel if he's given the opportunity but at the same time he may be a little unstable at this time so a little time at the back should be a good thing rather than an impediment to progress his career.
They must think 2016 is going to be better, and they will have a chance to redeem themselves. Or maybe it's the money.
I think it's not a bad thing that the young guns don't have immediate access to top teams

I don't disagree with that but the problem is with the way F1 is right now unless a driver has done something spectacular in the first 2 seasons of his career he is painted as a 'midfield joumrymen' and very quickly gets dropped. So its not that they are immediatly getting access to the top teams its that they are NEVER getting access to the top teams.

I'm a bit worried that Vandoorne is going to become a prime example of everything I'm talking about in this thread. He'll win the GP2 this year but there will not be a drive for him. So he'll be someones test driver somewhere and hardly get spoken about. By the time a drive becomes avaliable some other driver who is grabbing the headlines and has a great PR team will get put in it and Stoffel will just blend into the background.

It all comes down to the fact that we have long standing Hieracrcy of drivers who have gathered all the sponsors and media attention around them and can't be budged from those top seats whatever their current forn is and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Button since 2000
Raikkonen since 2001
Alonso since 2001
Massa since 2002
Rosberg since 2006
Hamilton since 2007
Vettel since 2008

Ricciardo is the only person thats got amonst any of those for race wins and that only came about because another old boy (Mark Webber) finally hung his helemt up about 4 years after he should have done.

We have the last decades worth of world champions in F1 at the moment and I think I'm right in saying that is unprecedented. These guys will keep driving while they are able too and because of their names the sponsors will keep paying them to do so....whether they are good enough to or not.

It really comes down to the lack of teams able to compeate I guess but I just think there is a whole lost generation of talent forming that given the chance could have competed, if not beaten, what F1 has at the top of its ladder right now.
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I guess I'm not sure whether the problem is more that they're old, rather than that they're no good? Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel speak for themselves; in recent years Raikkonen has beaten Grosjean, Button has beaten Perez and just about beat Magnussen, Massa admittedly has been a bit lucky but Williams definitely weren't a top team when he joined them; Rosberg beat Schumacher and is far from the least competitive driver we've seen in a dominant car.

I think McLaren are crazy to retain Button, if they do. Particularly since they're notably down on sponsorship (despite having two big names on the roster). But even then, how many of the lost generation look like they could actually do better? Bottas, certainly. Hulkenberg is often brilliant but gets outpaced by Perez too often for my liking. I think it's too early to judge the Toro Rosso pairing, and in any case neither of them provides a proper benchmark for the other at this point. As for GP2 and FR3.5 drivers, it's all guesswork until they get to race an F1 car; they deserve opportunities, yes, but down at the Sauber end of the field. That's a scandal, but all about finance, not the top teams' sponsors.
Frinjs, Vergne, Palmer, Vandoorne, Rowland, Buemi, Bird. I think if they were given the chance they'd show they could compete but we'll never get to see if I'm right. I just think its a shame.
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